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South Africa's ANC faces power sharing test

South African président Cyril Ramaphosa listens as members of Parliament are being sworn in in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, June 14, 2024   -  
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Jerome Delay/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

The leader of South Africa’s second biggest party said on Friday it will back Cyril Ramaphosa for president, almost guaranteeing he will be reelected in Parliament for a second term.

John Steenhuisen, the leader of the Democratic Alliance, the second biggest party, said there was now a signed agreement with the ANC to co-govern Africa's most industrialized country.

The agreement, which Steenhuisen said involved DA lawmakers backing Ramaphosa for a second term, came ahead of when lawmakers were expected to elect a president later in the session.

The ANC and the DA together hold a majority of seats in the 400-member Parliament to ensure Ramaphosa is reelected.

It may not even need a vote if Ramaphosa is the only candidate nominated for president later Friday, because he would then be reelected automatically.

Steenhuisen said he was going into the coalition "with an open hand and an open commitment."

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa should continue as president because the ANC got the largest share of votes in last month's national election, even though it lost its Parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

That meant a weakened ANC needed a coalition agreement to reelect the 71-year-old Ramaphosa and govern the country, leaving South Africa in an unprecedented political deadlock.

Two other smaller parties will also be part of the governing coalition, the first coalition at national level in South Africa's democratic history.

The coalition was agreed in principle late on Thursday, but talks had continued throughout the night and even on the sidelines of the parliamentary session before the final details were agreed and a document signed.

It brings together two of the country's longest and fiercest political rivals, with the ANC and the DA previously at loggerheads for years as ruling party and main opposition.

The DA has been the loudest critic of the ANC but will now likely help continue the ANC's three-decade hold on the presidency.

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